Planning Board Minutes 10/13/2009
VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK

PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2009


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:        Chris Kehoe, Chairman
                                Mark Aarons
                                Fran Allen
                                Vincent Andrews
                                Robert Luntz

ALSO PRESENT:           James Staudt, Village Attorney
                                Ann Gallelli, Member of the Board of Trustees
                                Daniel O'Connor, P.E., Village Engineer

1.  Call to Order:

The meeting was called to order at 8:00 P.M. by Chairman Kehoe.

2,  OLD BUSINESS:

  • Referral from the Village Board for Proposed Zoning Changes to the Harmon Gateway Overlay Zoning District
James Staudt, Village Attorney, was present to answer any questions about the proposed zoning changes that the Planning Board might have.

Chairman Kehoe noted that the Planning Board contemplated having a special meeting to discuss the zoning changes, but the board members could not arrange a time when all members could meet.  It was decided that the board would make this item the first item on the agenda for tonight’s meeting.  The Village Attorney is present to aid the Planning Board in their discussion.  Chairman Kehoe stated that the Planning Board received in their packets the revised Environmental Assessment Form (EAF).  

Chairman Kehoe noted that, since the last meeting, board member Fran Allen and he attended a Village Board work session on the proposed zoning changes.  Chairman Kehoe noted that there were some proposed modifications to the draft law discussed at the work session.  He asked the Village Attorney James Staudt if those modifications have since been worked into the draft law, to which Mr. Staudt replied that the conclusions drawn at that work session were, indeed, worked into the law, and a redraft of the law has been issued.

Chairman Kehoe referred to page 6 of the revised EAF, which contains a summary of the modifications made.  Chairman Kehoe referred to the first item pertaining to corner lots, which states the following: “Corner lots: any building located on a street corner shall be deemed to have building fronts on each of the intersecting streets which form the corner.” Mr. Staudt explained that on a corner lot, each side of the building facing the street would be treated as that building’s frontage.  Mr. Staudt noted that this is consistent with how this concept (frontage on corner lots) works in the current zoning law.  

Chairman Kehoe read aloud the next item, which states that, “The Planning Board shall have the authority in conducting Site Plan review to reduce or waive side yard setback requirement(s) of the underlying zone providing there is otherwise adequate access to parking areas.” Mr. Staudt noted that, in their deliberations on the Harmon Gateway zoning changes, the Harmon Economic Development Committee concluded that they would favor a streetscape where stores are adjacent to each other.  The question then arose as to what to do about side yard setback requirements.  It was noted during the Committee’s discussion(s) that there would have to be access to the rear parking lot areas.  If the access were from the front, then there would have to be a space for the driveway.  The Committee’s desire would be to achieve access to the rear parking lot from the back and to have fewer curb cuts in the front.  The hope is that the Planning Board could facilitate the process by reducing the side yard setback requirement(s) down to zero provided that another means of access to the rear parking could be found.

Chairman Kehoe read aloud the next item as follows: “Pre-existing buildings that are proposed for mixed use may not utilize 0.8 FAR or third story residential unless they have 10-20 feet from front yard setback and are otherwise area compliant.” Mr. Staudt explained to the Planning Board the exception/caveat in the new law regarding pre-existing buildings.  He stated that the new draft law provides for a front yard setback of 15 to 20 feet; however, if a pre-existing building were completely complaint except for the front yard setback i.e., the front yard were 10 feet instead of 15 feet, the owner of the building could still take advantage of the 0.8 FAR and third story residential. If, on the other hand, the pre-existing building is not in compliance (area compliant), then, in order to take advantage of the new law, the building would have to be brought into compliance.

Chairman Kehoe said that the next item states that, “Mixed use buildings shall be subject to additional design guidelines as adopted by the Village Board,” to which Mr. Staudt responded that this matter regarding design guidelines has “worked its way into the local law.”

Chairman Kehoe read aloud the next item as follows: “Parking: For mixed use buildings in the Harmon/South Riverside Gateway, each residential unit will provide one parking space plus one additional parking space for each bedroom in excess of one (e.g., studio requires 1 space; one-bedroom requires 1 space; two bedroom requires 2 spaces).  No change in parking requirement for non-residential space (no reduction in count for shared parking).” Mr. Staudt said that, in so far as the residential parking requirements in the Harmon Gateway are concerned, the Village has gone to a “bedroom count parking system.” Mr. Staudt said that the change that has taken place is that the (concept of) credit for shared parking has been removed.  This does not mean that there could not be shared parking, but there would be no credit for the shared parking.  Mr. Staudt added that there would be no change in how commercial parking is calculated i.e., how the parking for commercial use has been calculated up to now is how it would continue to be done.  Mr. Staudt reiterated that the change to the new draft law is that there would be “no subtracting for shared parking.” Chairman Kehoe said that, as he understands it, under the current zoning, there is a section of South Riverside Avenue in which the Planning Board has the authority to waive the parking requirement, to which Mr. Staudt replied that this is, indeed, the case. Mr. Staudt added that there would be no change in the new draft law to the Planning Board’s authority to waive the parking in that area.

Chairman Kehoe read aloud the next item, which states that, “New retail uses in C-2 zone within the Harmon/South Riverside Gateway district will not require a special permit as part of a mixed use structure.” Mr. Staudt summarized for the Planning Board the history of the C-1 and C-2 zoning regulations stating that C-1 zoning was established first, and C-2 was a “break-off” from the C-1 zoning.  Mr. Staudt stated that in the current law, whereas a retail use is allowed in a C-1 district, a special permit is required for retail use in a C-2 district.  Also, in the current law, if one retail use comes out and another goes in, it is not necessary for the “new” retail use to seek another special permit. Mr. Staudt noted that there has not been much new retail space created in the C-2 district; one of the goals of the new zoning is (would be) to remove barriers for retail uses to come into the Harmon area.  Mr. Staudt noted that the way the draft law was worded one might think that a special permit is required for retail use.  As a result, the Village Board decided to clarify the intent of the new draft law by modifying it to say that, in the Harmon Gateway district, a special permit would not be required for retail uses in a mixed-use structure.     

Chairman Kehoe asked if the aforementioned items were all of the items discussed at the work session, to which Mr. Staudt said that there was (also) a discussion as to whether or not there should be a minimum size for a residential unit.  The conclusion was to leave the ordinance as is.  Mr. Staudt stated that a question was also raised at the work session as to whether the 60% glass requirement should be required for both fronts on a corner lot; the conclusion was “yes.”

Chairman Kehoe said that, in his reading of the EAF document, he “envisioned” a total of 36 parcels in the Harmon Gateway i.e., 14 existing parcels and 22 parcels to be added to the gateway.  Chairman Kehoe said that the revised EAF contains red markings, which would appear to indicate additional parcels. Mr. Staudt explained to the Planning Board that these parcels were always intended to be in the Harmon Gateway, however, they were not part of the study area. He added that the area where the analyses were performed was along South Riverside Avenue.  Mr. Staudt pointed out that some of these parcels are owned by the Village and the impact analyses performed would, therefore, not apply. Mr. Staudt reiterated that these additional parcels are within the Harmon Gateway but are not subject to the kind of development analyzed in the study. Mr. Staudt noted that there is a footnote to this effect in the EAF. He suggested that there might need to be more footnoting done so that this is understood.

The Village Engineer mentioned some of the parcels that were not a part of the study but that are located in the Harmon Gateway including, among others, the Harmon Firehouse, a Village-owned residential parcel off of Wayne Street, a tiny parcel where a dumpster for a restaurant is situated, the residential parcel behind the Sunoco gas station and the parcel where Franzoso Contracting’s office/showroom is situated. Chairman Kehoe said that from his count there are actually 49 parcels located in the Harmon Gateway Overlay District. Mr. Aarons asked if, (for example), these additional parcels were a part of the analysis when the education discussion took place, to which Mr. Staudt replied that they were not.  Mr. Staudt said that the 36 parcels on South Riverside Avenue were the parcels that were the subject of the education discussion. Mr. Aarons said that this would mean that the impacts of the other parcels were, therefore, not addressed, to which Mr. Staudt responded that when Saccardi & Schiff did the studies of “developability,” they did not take the Village-owned parcels into consideration because they felt that they were irrelevant to the study.  Mr. Aarons asked about the residential parcel behind the Sunoco gas station, to which Mr. Staudt said again that it is his understanding that when they were laying out the parcels to get a sense of the density, parking, etc., they did not use these other parcels.

Chairman Kehoe asked if there were any other comments or questions from the Planning Board.  Mr. Andrews said that on page 38 of the EAF there is a discussion on the existing parking based on the July 2009 survey/inventory. He asked if this study on the parking involved the same 36 (rather than 49) parcels, to which Mr. Staudt answered, yes.

Mr. Aarons had questions on the analysis for square footage(s) and the subsequent calculations for parking as shown in Table 3B on page 20 of the EAF, to which Chairman Kehoe noted that the footnote #1 on page 20 states that the information contained in this parking analysis was taken from the property utilization study prepared by Saccardi & Schiff in July 2008.  The July 2008 study explains how they arrived at the figures for their analysis.  Chairman Kehoe said that the July 2008 document lays out all of their (Saccardi & Schiff’s) assumptions.  Mr. Staudt added that for the parking study Saccardi & Schiff tried to do a site plan analysis of actual Village parcels that they had laid out.  Mr. Aarons said that footnote #1 states that, “[This study] assumes 50% one-bedroom and 50% two-bedroom units for parking calculations.” Mr. Aarons expressed concern about the newly proposed requirements for parking. In the current regulations for the C-2 district, two parking spaces per residential unit are required. In the new regulations for the Harmon Gateway, one parking space for each one-bedroom unit would be required, which would mean that the parking for one-bedroom units would be cut in half (from two to one).  Mr. Aarons said that it would, therefore, seem that in the new regulations one would need less parking spaces to meet requirements than before. Mr. Staudt noted that, with respect to regulations on parking, the current code has a mixed-occupancy section, which is different from the mixed-use presently being proposed; for a mixed-occupancy, two parking spaces would be required. Mr. Staudt noted that, in so far as the parking count is concerned, there is an array of requirements in the existing Village Code and choices as to how to handle (calculate) the parking.

Mr. Aarons said that in the current C-2 requirements for a mixed-use, two parking spaces per residential unit are required. The current code does not go by the bedroom count.  Mr. Aarons noted that given the fact that the new requirement(s) for parking in the Harmon Gateway would go by the bedroom count and that mostly one-bedroom apartments are anticipated, the result would be that the parking requirement would be cut in half. Mr. Luntz recalled that the way it was explained to the Plannin Mr. Aarons said that he would be concerned that these studies are not based on statistics but are all conjecture. He would want to make sure that for the analyses/studies being performed, the information being used is valid information and not just speculation.g Board was that the Village might want to make the parking requirement such that it would be an incentive to a developer to hold down the number of bedrooms in an apartment.

Mr. Aarons referred to Table 8 “Estimated Number of School Children” on page 43 of the EAF and noted that this table “talks about” the number of students assuming one-bedroom rental apartment units; however, on page 20 for the parking analysis the table “talks about” one- or two-bedroom units. Chairman Kehoe noted to Mr. Aarons that for the school children analysis the table also takes into consideration one- or two-bedroom units, to which Mr. Aarons said that this is true, but he would still be concerned that these studies do not weigh equally on the different bedroom count scenarios. Mr. Aarons suggested a way in which the analysis performed might have produced more definitive results. Ms. Allen questioned if it would be possible to refine down to that kind of an analysis the conjectures that one would have to make to do these studies. Mr. Aarons said that he would be concerned that these studies are “all conjecture.”  He would rather have these studies based on actual statistics.  Mr. Aarons said that there are statistics that could bear these studies out. He would want to make sure that for the analyses/studies being performed, the information being used is valid information and not just speculation.

Mr. Aarons said that, with respect to the space on the ground floor of buildings, the Harmon Gateway study uses 50% of the ground floor for commercial space and 50% for residential. Mr. Aarons questioned why these studies would use the 50-50 scenario when the actual usage “tilts toward” 100% of commercial space on the ground floor. Mr. Aarons reiterated that the study looks at 50% residential and 50% commercial, but it should be 100% commercial on the ground floor. Mr. Staudt said that, in the studies performed, Saccardi & Schiff made a conservative analysis, to which Ms. Allen added that the numbers are going to be greater under a conservative view. Mr. Aarons said that he would disagree. To him “conservative” is just the opposite and means “bending over backwards.” Mr. Aarons said that, “Out of 36 parcels [in the Harmon Gateway], 32 are 100% commercial occupied.” The Village Engineer said that, with respect to meeting the parking requirements for the Harmon Gateway, if someone were to create 100% commercial space on the ground floor and offices on the second floor, the chances are that he/she would not meet the parking requirements.  The Village Engineer pointed out that this matter concerning the parking would be “covered” during the site plan review process by the Planning Board.  Mr. Aarons said that he thinks that, “We have been reckless with this parking analysis; based on history, this conservative approach will leave us with a problem.”  Mr. Aarons said that these parking calculations have to be accurate. The Village would want to be certain that there is ample parking on South Riverside Avenue.                

Chairman Kehoe said that he, too, feels that rather than the 50-50 approach, the first (ground) floor of buildings should be 100% commercial space. Chairman Kehoe said that he thinks that the Village does not need more “residential” in this (the Harmon Gateway) area.  He raised this issue at the Village Board work session.  Chairman Kehoe said that he would think that there would be better control of residential units if the first (ground) floor were 100% commercial.  Mr. Staudt noted that the Committee had a retail consultant predict the demand. Their recommendation was not to make the ground floor 100% commercial but, instead, let it be 50% commercial and 50% residential.  Mr. Staudt said that the Committee very carefully talked this through in their report and they concluded in their report that, although a retail use is desirable, it is going to come more gradually.

Mr. Aarons said that, in so far as the parking is concerned, he would see more of an issue with parking for a residential use than a commercial use. Most families have more than one car.  He would think that it would be unrealistic to assume that one parking space per unit would be enough. Mr. Aarons said that whereas the newly proposed residential requirements for parking in the Harmon Gateway are “an illusion,” the commercial requirements are “real.” A 4,000 square-foot commercial space, for example, would require 16 parking spaces.  Mr. Aarons said that, with respect to the parking, he would think that (the concept of) 100% commercial on the first (ground) floor of a building would work; however, he would see a problem with parking for a residential use.  Mr. Aarons said that if these zoning changes were to go into effect for a residential use and the parking was to become an issue, it would be difficult to “go backwards” in a bad parking scenario.  

Mr. Aarons referred to the tax estimate calculations in Table 9 “Tax Estimates (Village and School Taxes)” on page 44 of the EAF and questioned, among other items, how in the annual total school tax revenue in Table 9, the figure goes from $247,075.00 (Existing Condition) to the lesser amount of $200,327.22 for Scenario #1, which takes into consideration the anticipated new mixed-use development in Harmon. Ms. Allen said that she, too, feels that Table 9 is misleading.  Mr. Staudt said that if the Planning Board has questions, and apparently they do, on how the tax revenue for the various scenarios was calculated, then, this should be clarified. The Planning Board should raise this issue regarding the tax estimate calculations in their memorandum to the Village Board.

Mr. Aarons said that the goal for the redevelopment of the Harmon Gateway is to have a streetscape. For any reconstruction of a building to take place in the Harmon Gateway a property owner would be required to obtain a building permit from the Village. Mr. Aarons questioned whether, in the Harmon Gateway study and the Committee’s subsequent report, it had been taken into account what would happen to property taxes “when that building permit is issued and reconstruction is done.” Mr. Aarons offered an example of a scenario on how a property might be redeveloped and then reassessed with the subsequent increase in taxes.  He questioned whether there should be a study done on the impact on property owners of increases in their assessments.  Mr. Staudt said that when a property owner/developer wishes to develop a piece of property, they would generally meet with the assessor to discuss the “fair market value.” The taxes levied by a municipality have to relate to the market value of the property.  

Chairman Kehoe noted to the board members that the Planning Board has 60 days to provide comments on a referral, and the 60-day timeframe has long since passed.  Chairman Kehoe noted that the public hearing on this proposal has been moved back to the first Village Board meeting in November.  Chairman Kehoe said that he sent a memorandum to the Village Board, which contained a breakdown of the issues the Planning Board had discussed at their last meeting on the Harmon rezoning. He would not want to “totally bypass” the Planning Board’s formal memorandum to the Village Board in response to their request for a recommendation.  Chairman Kehoe said that, specifically speaking, he is in favor of the overall concept of this project.  Chairman Kehoe said that he does not necessarily have the fears that some people have of “overrunning the community.” He would be in favor of providing incentives to encourage commercial revitalization. Chairman Kehoe said that, in the memorandum to the Village Board, he would include the comments and concerns of board members discussed tonight.  Chairman Kehoe said that he, personally, would trust the findings of the studies/reports prepared by Saccardi & Schiff. They are a reputable firm.  Mr. Luntz said that he, too, would be in favor of providing incentives to redevelop the Harmon Gateway.  He would think that tonight’s discussion regarding the parking should be factored in to the Planning Board’s memorandum to the Village Board.  Mr. Luntz said that he would think that it is time for the Village to move forward to the public hearing on this zoning proposal.  

Chairman Kehoe reviewed some of the issues that should be factored into the Planning Board’s memorandum.  There was a discussion tonight about the concept of permitting 50% of the first (ground) floor of buildings for residential development.  A few members thought that the first (ground) floor of a building should be 100% commercial use. The Planning Board still has concerns about how the parking is being calculated especially with respect to the newly proposed calculation of one space per bedroom.  Furthermore, it is not clear whether in doing their analysis Saccardi & Schiff took into account the post-construction tax burden on property owners/developers.

Mr. Aarons said that he does not know if it is ours (the Planning Board’s) to endorse or reject this proposal.  Mr. Aarons said that he is for incentivizing development.  He is not sure if this proposal is the one that would work the best, but this is the proposal that has been given to the Planning Board for review.  

Mr. Aarons asked if, in their discussions about the Harmon zoning, the Planning Board had looked at street elevations along South Riverside Avenue, the purpose of which would be to encourage staggered development along the street that would take advantage of water views.  Mr. Aarons noted that, generally speaking, potential property owners/tenants of buildings are willing to pay a great deal of money for a water view. Mr. Aarons did not know if the Harmon Economic Development Committee had discussed this idea at all. Chairman Kehoe was unaware of the Committee discussing it but said that the Planning Board did not discuss it. Mr. Aarons said that, with respect to the issues raised tonight, the parking issue is his most serious concern.  

Mr. Aarons said that, in his view, the ground floor of a building should be 100% commercial. He likes the idea of at least 60% of the front façade of a commercial/retail space being glass.  He also likes the idea of a uniform streetscape and pedestrian walkways.

Mr. Aarons said that, in so far as taxes are concerned, the Village might want to consider a tax abatement scheme for property owners/developers who have made improvements to their properties, the purpose being to avoid the disincentive of having an immediate increase in taxes.  

Mr. Aarons raised the issue, brought up earlier in the meeting, about the number of parcels in the Harmon Gateway district. From tonight’s discussion there are actually 49 rather than 36 parcels.  The original EAF appeared to include these 36 parcels.  Mr. Aarons questioned why the parcels off of South Riverside Avenue that make up the remaining 13 are now being shown, to which Mr. Staudt said that they are being shown because they are in the Gateway. The Village is uniformly changing the requirements for the Harmon Gateway, and these 13 parcels are in the Gateway.  Mr. Staudt pointed out to the Planning Board that the Village would be “creating another district” if the Village were to leave out these 13 parcels.  Ms. Allen said that she has been concerned that they are being left out and thinks that they should have been included in the discussion(s).  Mr. Aarons said that, in so far as these lots are concerned, there should have been an explanation provided so that the Planning Board could have made their own evaluation, to which Mr. Staudt agreed.

Ms. Allen said that she would not support the idea discussed earlier of restricting the ground floor to commercial use (only). Ms. Allen said that she likes the flexibility offered by the 50-50 proposal. Ms. Allen said that the use of the ground floor would eventually evolve into “all commercial,” but she does not see any reason to restrict it to “commercial only” now.

Mr. Andrews noted that one of the central concepts of the Harmon redevelopment proposal is the creation of a streetscape on South Riverside Avenue with parking in the rear. A parking lot in the rear of buildings would span across several parcels.  Mr. Andrews questioned how the Village would go about encouraging a “municipal lot” concept behind these parcels. He questioned how to give the Village the necessary tools to work with property owners/developers to make this happen. Mr. Andrews asked if there had been any creative suggestions offered to date, to which Chairman Kehoe said that it would seem to him that this matter regarding the “shared parking” would have to be addressed by the Village on a case by case basis. Chairman Kehoe noted that Mr. Andrews is talking about the concept of a unified development on the east side of the street (South Riverside Avenue).  Mr. Luntz said that Mr. Andrews has a good point.  In order to follow through with the scenario of a uniform streetscape in the front of buildings, the parking for the stores would have to be in the rear.  Mr. Aarons said that, as a Planning Board, it might be good to suggest that the Village incentivize a reciprocal easement agreement among landowners. Another thought would be to offer tax incentives and/or tax reductions.  Mr. Staudt noted that it is the standard practice of this Planning Board to encourage, in their approval(s) of site plans, reciprocal agreements between parcel owners.  Ms. Allen said that it is, indeed, the case that the Planning Board often has these opportunities come their way.  The Village Engineer noted that the Village should look at any impediments to the “shared parking” concept that might currently exist in the Village Code.  He gave as an example the requirement in the Code to provide landscaping on the perimeter of a parking lot and said that the Village would want to ensure that a provision could be made to waive this requirement.

Chairman Kehoe said that he would try to draft a memorandum to the Village Board within the next few days.  He would work into the memorandum the comments/concerns discussed tonight.  Mr. Aarons said that he would want wording in the memorandum to the effect that he, personally, is not offering either a recommendation or a rejection of this proposal.
  
  • Croton Community  Nursery School – Lower North Highland Place (Sec. 67.20 Blk. 2 Lots 5, 6, 9 and 25 [formerly Lots 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 25]) – Application for a Preliminary Subdivision Approval
Ronald Wegner of Cronin Engineering was present to represent the Applicant.

Chairman Kehoe asked Mr. Staudt if he could stay for the beginning of the discussion on the nursery school subdivision proposal as he has a question to ask Mr. Staudt regarding the rights to build on this property. Chairman Kehoe told Mr. Staudt that the subject property was donated to the Croton Community Nursery School.  His question has always been if there were any restrictions placed on the nursery school for the type of building that could take place. Did the donor give it to the nursery school solely for the purpose of building something for the children attending the nursery school?  Chairman Kehoe noted to Mr. Staudt that the Applicant has provided for the Planning Board’s review a copy of the title report and there is nothing in the title report that would answer the question regarding possible restrictions on the type of building.  Chairman Kehoe reiterated that he would want to know if there were any restrictions on building when the property was deeded to the school.  Mr. Staudt stated that if the donor wanted to put restrictions on the property, he/she should have put restrictions in the deed or a separate recorded document.  Mr. Staudt said that if it were done correctly it should have turned up in the title report.  Mr. Staudt said that, to resolve this issue, the Planning Board could ask for a written report from the Applicant. The Applicant’s attorney could issue an opinion letter.  Furthermore, the Planning Board could make it a condition of their subdivision approval that this approval is contingent upon there being no restrictions. Mr. Staudt reiterated that, if it were done properly, any restrictions on building should have been in the title report.  

The Village Engineer questioned what the responsibility of the nursery school board is (should be) in resolving this issue for the Planning Board.  Mr. Staudt said that the Planning Board has the right to ask the nursery school board to provide something in writing.  The nursery school board could pass a resolution that there are no restrictions.  The Planning Board could ask for an affidavit from the chairman of the nursery school board.  Mr. Wegner asked what the Planning Board’s responsibility is (should be) in this matter, to which Mr. Staudt replied that this matter regarding restrictions of land use certainly has relevance to the Planning Board’s site plan review.  It is a typical requirement of an Applicant in the land use process to show that they have a right to make a subdivision or site plan application.  

Ms. Allen said that she has some “new” information to share with the board tonight on the donor of the nursery school property. This property was donated to the nursery school by Sam Rubin who, in the past, had donated multiple small parcels of land to the Village. Ms. Allen said that Mr. Rubin gave the land for the Arboretum and when he did so, he carefully spelled out what he wanted done with this land.  Ms. Allen noted that for the meeting tonight the Planning Board received copies of the deed on the transference of land from Sam Rubin to the nursery school. It would seem that there are pages missing.  Ms. Allen described the gaps in the deed documents. Mr. Staudt noted that these (deeds) are recorded documents; he would think that, if there are pages missing in the Village copies, the Planning Board could go elsewhere (the Town of Cortlandt or County Land Records) to obtain these documents.  Ms. Allen said that she spoke with Eugene & Abby Perl who had some background information on the donation of this property to the nursery school.  The Perl’s told her that this land was meant for the school.  This land was where the school was going to go.  At that time, the architect for the nursery school designed a building; however, the nursery school could never raise enough money to build this structure. Ms. Allen said that the Perl’s gave her the names of other people who might know more about the history of this donation of land.   

Mr. Aarons asked Mr. Staudt what the Planning Board’s standing should be on this matter.  Is it incumbent on the Planning Board to ask these questions or restrict the process?  Mr. Staudt said that it is in the board’s jurisdiction to inquire into these matters so that the Planning Board does not “waste its time reviewing [a project] when it can’t happen.”  

Mr. Staudt said that he could look into this matter of deed restrictions for the Planning Board.  He could check the deeds with the County Land Records to make sure that the Planning Board has the full pages and text of the deed.  Mr. Staudt said that, if the board so chooses, he would also be willing to look at the title report on the property that has been provided.     

Mr. Wegner described for the Planning Board the latest revisions to the Applicant’s plans.  The subdivision plan now shows the 4-acre conservation easement at the corner(s) of the property.  Mr. Wegner said that he has transposed onto the Applicant’s tree survey and the steep slopes plan the four houses being proposed.  Chairman Kehoe noted to those present that the Applicant has also provided for tonight’s meeting the wetlands report prepared in June of this year by the Applicant’s wetlands consultant Steve Coleman and the subsequent follow-up report prepared by the Village’s environmental consultant, Bruce Donohue.

Mr. Wegner referred to the Applicant’s plan showing the revised wetlands delineation and indicated to the Planning Board the wetlands area(s).  Mr. Wegner said that the area south of the existing stone wall near Lot 1 is now classified as a “wetland.”

Mr. Wegner said that, in so far as the steep slopes are concerned, he has calculated the square footage of disturbance.  The table on the steep slopes map indicates the square footage of disturbance proposed within each range of slope categories.  Chairman Kehoe noted that according to the plans the house on Lot 1 is “sitting on a 35% slope” and a portion of the house is within the 120-foot wetlands buffer.  Ms. Allen asked where the house would be located in conjunction to the ridge, to which Mr. Wegner replied that the house would be entirely in front of the ridge.  Mr. Luntz referred to the existing stone walls on the property and expressed concern about losing portions of the stone wall, to which Mr. Wegner said that they have laid out the site to preserve stone walls and, where ever possible, have used these walls as lot lines.  He added that small portions of these stone walls could be relocated, if need be.

Ms. Allen asked if there were a minimum number of houses that could be proposed that would create no disturbance to the steep slopes.  She expressed concern about the disturbance to the steep slopes on Lot 1.  Ms. Allen said that on Lot 2, the back of the house would be situated 15 feet from the wetlands buffer. Ms. Allen expressed concern about the back yard of this house being next to the wetlands buffer.  Mr. Wegner said that, with respect to the house on Lot 1, the original layout showed this house closer to the property line.  They moved the house farther away from the neighbor’s house so as to give this neighbor more privacy.  Chairman Kehoe said that, “If you pushed [the house] back to the left, then you would get it out of the steeper sloped areas.” Chairman Kehoe noted that, in their subdivision review, the Planning Board has to look at the entire site and how houses could be laid out to minimize the environmental impacts.  He said that in the Town of Cortlandt the Planning Board would typically not approve the building of a house on a 35% or greater slope. Chairman Kehoe referred to the location being proposed for the house on Lot 4 and questioned whether moving the house on Lot 4 closer to the road would decrease the environmental impacts. He noted that by putting the house on Lot 4 closer to the road, the driveway would not have to go “all the way back.”  

Chairman Kehoe said that the house on Lot 2 is situated within the drainage channel buffer.  He asked if a permit would be required, to which Mr. Wegner responded that a drainage channel is regulated in a different way from a wetlands buffer.  He would look into whether or not a permit is required.  

Ms. Allen said that she would be concerned about the stand of trees on Lot 1.  The way the house on Lot 1 is currently situated, some black oak trees would have to be removed. Mr. Wegner said that, to save these trees, he could look into moving this house closer to the neighbor’s on the left-hand side of the property.             

Chairman Kehoe said that the Planning Board has discussed tonight the possibility of shifting a house from a steeper sloped area to an area within the wetlands buffer.  Chairman Kehoe noted that the Planning Board’s ultimate goal is to minimize the adverse environmental impacts to the greatest extent possible.  Chairman Kehoe said that he would think that it would be helpful to the Planning Board at this point in the review process to have the Village’s environmental consultant Bruce Donohue look into this matter of the environmental impacts.  Mr. Donohue could look at the different layout scenarios and advise the Planning Board accordingly.       

Ms. Allen said that the Planning Board needs to go on a site visit again to see the layouts; however, she, personally, is “not going to support four lots.”  She would be concerned about the adverse environmental impacts.  Mr. Wegner said that, for the subdivision being proposed, the Applicant does not have to build any new roads.  The Applicant also meets the setback requirements.  Mr. Wegner said that, “He has four totally compliant lots.”  Mr. Wegner said that he tried to come before the board with what he deemed to be a reasonable proposal.  He pointed out to the Planning Board that he could have actually tried for more lots.  

Chairman Kehoe told Mr. Wegner that he has not totally quantified the wetlands buffer impacts, the drainage channel impacts and the steep slope impacts. Furthermore, Mr. Wegner has not shown the Planning Board a comparison of the environmental impacts for three as opposed to four lots.  Chairman Kehoe said that the steep slopes disturbance with three lots instead of four would be significantly reduced; also, the disturbance to the wetlands buffer could be eliminated.  Mr. Wegner said that the Applicant is making a disturbance to a marginal wetland the location of which, overall, is on the other side of the hill.  Ms. Allen noted that the stream located in the back of the property is considered to be “protected waters of the U.S.,” to which Mr. Wegner pointed out to the board that the Applicant does not need a permit for this stream.

Chairman Kehoe noted that Ms. Allen and he are the only members tonight that have suggested the possibility of a three-lot rather than a four-lot subdivision.  Chairman Kehoe said that he, personally, would not be averse to three lots.  He would think that, from an environmental standpoint, a three-lot subdivision would work better; however, he has not heard from the majority of the board members.  Chairman Kehoe suggested to Mr. Wegner that he speak with his clients about reducing the number of lots to three.  He noted that if the Applicant (the nursery school) were to say “no” to this suggestion, then, the Planning Board would have to discuss the four lots.      

Ms. Allen said that, from an environmental standpoint, the property in question is a very special piece of property. Ms. Allen said that the stream in the back of this property is one of many federally protected streams coming from upland watershed areas and emptying into the Hudson River.  The Village would, therefore, be concerned about any development taking place in the vicinity of this federally protected stream.  Ms. Allen said that she would be concerned about the old-growth trees on the nursery school property.  She noted that there is a 49” DBH black oak tree, which would very likely be taken down during construction.  Ms. Allen said that, in her view, the subject property should be protected by the Village. She finds it unconscionable that the Village would allow a developer to come in and destroy this piece of land.  Ms. Allen said that, in so far as developing land is concerned, “You can build houses and [you] don’t have to destroy the environment.”  Mr. Wegner noted to Ms. Allen that the aforementioned stream would be on the conservation easement being donated to the Village.  Mr. Wegner referred to the tree survey provided by the Applicant and questioned the Planning Board as to why the Applicant was asked to go to the expense of surveying the trees on the conservation easement land when this land is being dedicated to the Village.

Ms. Allen wanted to know if there would be any blasting to build the houses, to which Mr. Wegner responded that the subdivision plan that the Applicant has provided would probably not require any blasting.  

Chairman Kehoe asked Mr. Wegner to talk to his clients about the possibility of reducing the number of lots to three.  Chairman Kehoe said that, perhaps, the layout for three, as opposed to four lots would not be an improvement, but he would find that highly unlikely. Mr. Wegner said that if they were to go with three rather than four lots, the houses would more than likely be larger in size and the lots would be built out.

Chairman Kehoe noted to Mr. Wegner that the application fee for this subdivision has not yet been collected.  He questioned how much longer the Village should wait to collect the fee.  After a brief discussion, the Planning Board decided that it was definitely time for the Village to collect the application fee.

Mr. Andrews said that he would think that it is time for the Planning Board to “hunker down” in their review of this application. He said that whatever the plan is that comes back before the board the next time the Planning Board would need to “stick with what is in the Code.”  Chairman Kehoe said that, as an example of what Mr. Andrews is saying, the Applicant would have to look at the criteria specifically called out in the Village’s steep slope ordinance.  Mr. Andrews noted that, to move this application forward, the Planning Board is going to have to “get past the rhetoric and into these details.”

Adam Cohen of 14 Lounsbury Road was present.  Mr. Cohen said that to have a better understanding of the site, he would think that it would be useful for the Planning Board to take a site walk.  Mr. Cohen expressed his concern about potential water problems on this property.  Joan Demm of 12 Lounsbury Road was also concerned about water problems and said that in heavy rains the stream in the back goes downhill 30 to 50 feet in every direction to Lower North Highland Place. Mr. Cohen said that he is (also) concerned about the impacts on this project in a bad economy.  He would not want to see huge houses built on the property and, then, in a bad economy, remain empty.  

Chairman Kehoe asked Mr. Wegner when he would be coming back before the board, to which Mr. Wegner said that he would assume that he would be coming back after the matter concerning deed restrictions has been settled.  Chairman Kehoe said that he would generate an email concerning possible dates and times for a site visit.  The Village Engineer suggested to Mr. Wegner that he should physically locate the houses before the site visit.

3.  NEW BUSINESS:

  • Tara & Desiree Drapala – 10 Old Post Road South (Sec. 78.08 Blk. 7 Lot 5) – Application for an Amended Site Plan Approval for the Opening of a Child Care Center Facility
Tara and Desiree Drapala, owners of the child care center, and Michael Norton from Ten Old Post Road South Corporation, owner of the property, were present.

Chairman Kehoe noted that the public hearing before the Village Board for a special permit has taken place, and the special permit was granted.

Chairman Kehoe noted that, since the last time this application was before the Planning Board (for the Village Board’s referral), the back of the property has been cleaned up, to which Mr. Norton said that this is, indeed, the case.  Mr. Norton said that the site plan submitted shows, among other items, a new handrail at the steps leading to the door at the back of the building.

Ms. Drapala referred the Planning Board to the new door now being shown at the side of the building and said that this door would be locked from the outside and only used for emergency purposes.  

Chairman Kehoe noted that there is on-street parking at the front of the building so that people could come in and out of the building from the front, but the intent is for people using this facility to mainly come in and out from the back.

Chairman Kehoe said that the sidewalk being proposed would be on top of tree roots, to which the Village Engineer responded that these tree roots would, indeed, be damaged.  The Village Engineer said that this has to be looked at.  Chairman Kehoe suggested that, perhaps, some methods could be discussed to install the sidewalk that would minimize the damage to trees.

Chairman Kehoe asked Mr. Norton if, as a part of the work being proposed for this property, the property owner intends to “match up” the front façade, to which Mr. Norton said, yes, they intend to do the work on the façade.  They have spoken about it with the Applicant’s architect Ed Gemmola and have also contacted the contractor who did the original work on the facade.

Ms. Drapala told the Planning Board that she has been to the Engineer’s Office and has picked up a sign application.

Chairman Kehoe noted that the Applicant’s plan shows five parking spaces up against the back of the building designated as two-hour parking.  Mr. Norton assured the Planning Board that the property owner has no issue with putting up signs for two-hour parking in the back and designating two spots as handicapped parking spots.  

Chairman Kehoe said that the parking lot in the back of the building is owned by the Village, to which Mr. Norton noted that the property owner owns 12 feet of front parking and the Village owns the balance of the parking.  Mr. Norton pointed out that the parking area has always been considered a Village lot.  The Village Engineer said that the Planning Board would be waiving the parking requirement based on Village (municipal) parking being available. Also, employees of the childcare center would be issued parking permits by the Village.

The Village Engineer said that, for the next meeting, the Applicant’s plans should be revised to show the landscaping and the lighting.  Mr. Norton said that the old lighting fixtures would be removed; the property owner is proposing to have lighting all around the building.  The Village Engineer asked that the existing lighting be shown on the revised plan(s).  Also, the new lighting where the stairs are should be shown.  

Mr. Luntz said that it is his understanding that people will park in the back and walk up the stairs at the back side of the building, to which Ms. Drapala responded that they will have a “meet and greet” person in the back who will escort the child to his/her classroom.  Ms. Drapala said that they put out a monthly newsletter for the parents.  The newsletter would talk about procedures for the childcare center including the parking in the back.  She does not foresee any problems in this regard.

The Village Engineer asked if they are proposing a covering for the stairs in the back to protect the stairs from rain, snow, ice, etc., to which Mr. Norton replied that they had not intended to put up any sort of covering for the stairs.  Ms. Drapala said that they would make sure that the stairs are safe e.g., the snow would be shoveled and salt would be put down, etc.  Mr. Norton pointed out that state inspectors check to make sure that day care center facilities, such as this one, are kept safe.

Mr. Aarons said that the 12 parking spaces for employees in the last (back) row of the Village parking lot should be designated as such. He would want to make certain that the employees know that they have to park in the back row of this lot.  Mr. Norton suggested that they could make an amendment to the lease to this effect.  Mr. Aarons suggested that the Planning Board could make it a condition of the resolution of approval.      

The Village Engineer asked that, for the next meeting, the Applicant’s plans be revised to show details of the sidewalk construction and details of the hand railing.

Chairman Kehoe asked if there were any further comments from the board members, to which there were none.  

Chairman Kehoe suggested that the Planning Board could schedule the public hearing on this amended site plan application.  The Planning Board scheduled the public hearing for the next Planning Board meeting to be held on Tuesday, October 27th.

4.  OTHER BUSINESS:

  • Trustee Gallelli came forward and gave the board members some additional information on the status of the parcels of land belonging to the Croton Community Nursery School.  Trustee Gallelli said that she was president of the Croton Community Nursery School board in the early 1980’s. At that time, the board was considering selling the property.  The nursery school decided not to sell the property because they thought they were going to be able to build the school. Trustee Gallelli noted that she has seen the architectural drawings of the proposed nursery school building, to which Ms. Allen was referring.  Trustee Gallelli said that the Planning Board was talking earlier about any limits (restrictions) on the gift of this property to the nursery school.  Trustee Gallelli said that she recalls words to the effect that this property is (would be) “for the benefit of the nursery school.” At that point in time, the nursery school had decided that the property had to be developed as a nursery school use.     
5.  APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

The minutes of the Tuesday, September 8, 2009 Planning Board meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Mr. Aarons, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 4-0-1. Mr. Andrews abstained.      

Approval of the minutes of the Tuesday, September 22, 2009 Planning Board meeting was tabled until the next regularly scheduled meeting to be held on Tuesday, October 27th.
     
6.  ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 11:18 P.M.

Sincerely,



Sylvia Mills
Secretary


Sylvia Mills
Village of Croton-on-Hudson
Engineer's Office
tel: 914-271-4783
fax: 914-271-3790